Peres Elementary School in Richmond serves a low-income community, but you would not get that impression after visiting Kelly Fimbres’ second-grade classroom, which is incrementally becoming state of the art thanks to an online donations program fueled by Chevron.
Bolstering their access to a vegetable garden on the campus at 719 5th St., Fimbres’ classroom is equipped with both a juicer and Crock-Pot, appliances that are not only teaching children the importance of nutrition but also basic math and measurements when preparing meals.
On Tuesday, the second grade class secured two brand new Apple iPad minis, an Apple iPod Nano and related accessories, which Fimbres said students will use to download educational apps and perhaps look up healthy recipes.
The Apple accessories came courtesy of Chevron’s Fuel Your School program, which in its fifth year funds requests from local teachers for educational tools their school cannot afford. During the month of October, Chevron donates a dollar every time drivers purchase more than 8 gallons of fuel at participating gas stations. Those funds are then used to purchase the educational tools requested by public school teachers on DonorsChoose.org.
On Tuesday, Chevron executive Mike Wirth personally gifted the Apple products to Fimbres’ students, with help from Oakland A’s mascot Stomper. Fimbres said she has used DonorsChoose.org more than 60 times to provide her students with tools that help offer a diverse, high-quality education.
Wirth explained that Chevron’s partnership with DonorsChoose.org specifically aims to provide teachers with resources to bolster education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). STEM subjects are becoming increasingly necessary in the modern economy, Wirth said, and the company hopes to build its future workforce starting with local students. Chevron has also partnered with the A’s on STEM initiatives, hoping to inspire future generations of engineers by showing how science works in baseball.
At Peres Elementary on Tuesday, Wirth recounted his colorful career that included “squeezing rocks to make oil” and building gas stations, and explained that he had just returned from a business trip to Kazakhstan. Those experiences, Wirth hoped, would help to inspire students to develop an interest in STEM education. The students also participated in a scientific experiment during the event.
Wirth stressed to the girls in the classroom that boys are in no way more qualified for jobs in what is currently a male-dominated field.
“Some of the best engineers I know are girls,” Wirth said, adding there is a dire need for a lot of scientists to help unlock tomorrow’s energy future.